Chandigarh’s founder to get centre in his honour soon

February 20th, 2008 - 12:18 pm ICT by admin  

By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, Feb 20 (IANS) Chandigarh’s founder, the French architect Le Corbusier, will finally get a place in his name in the city that he designed over 55 years ago. The Chandigarh administration has decided to set up a Le Corbusier Centre in an old building complex in Sector 19 here. The building is the same where Corbusier and his team of architects and engineers planned and implemented the design of India’s post-independence modern city.

“The centre will display and exhibit the life and works of Le Corbusier so that the tourists and future generations may be able to acquaint themselves with the rich cultural heritage of the city,” Chandigarh’s home secretary Krishna Mohan said.

The centre will focus on preservation, interpretation, research, display of the works and legacy of Le Corbusier. It will have three sections comprising museum, display gallery and research and publication.

The centre, to be built in two months, will be housed in the old makeshift building in Sector 19, which is one of the first ones to be built in the early 1950s, to enable Corbusier and others to design the city. The building will be lit up in the evenings.

Corbusier was specially invited by India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to plan and design Chandigarh. The Switzerland-born master-architect died in 1965.

Since Corbusier said in the city’s original master plan that Chandigarh would never have any statues, including his own, there is nothing in the city at present, other than the architect’s designed buildings, to celebrate his vision.

The museum section will recreate the ambience of the original Le Corbusier office. The administration intends taking the help of all photographs and inputs of people who worked in Corbusier’s office to re-create his work environment.

Small movable objects including furniture and carpets used by Le Corbusier or created in his time will be restored.

Furniture and other artefacts from the time Corbusier designed Chandigarh have sold, in recent years, for millions of dollars in the international market.

International dealers bought most of the antique items at scrap value. Realising this, the administration has now banned the sale of anything from the Corbusier-era.

In the display gallery, various methods will be used to explain the history of how the city was built during the Le Corbusier era - from 1951 to 1965. Principles of designs used in Chandigarh will also be explained so that the cultural value of the city and the contribution of Le Corbusier could be promoted, Mohan said.

The research and publication centre will be developed to encourage research about Le Corbusier and his works. Posters, printed material and publications will be maintained.

The administration has appointed Kiran Joshi and V.N. Singh, both experts on the city, as nodal officers to finalise the content and the display of the centre.

Tapestries of the Le Corbusier era now in the Punjab and Haryana high court premises will be soon shifted to the Chandigarh museum and art gallery complex for restoration.

Experts from the National Museum, New Delhi and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage will carry out the restoration.

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